The demonic traffic lights of Old Sunbury Town lie in wait, thirsty for the blood of unwary pedestrians. They lust for the fluids that soak into their darkly luxurious stretch of tarmac.
Over the years, the lights have changed, evolving their appearance in line with the design of less malevolent street furniture. To the despair of police and local council alike however, the corner of Green Street and Nursery Road remains a festeringly treacherous accident black spot.
The warning lights for pedestrians angle away from easy view by users of the crossing. The statutory warning bleeps remain mysteriously silent while the rotating cylinder used by the blind and partially sighted repeatedly grows razor edged ridges that desperate workmen file back down with nervous grins on their faces. Most dangerously of all, the timings of the lights shift, flow and ebb with malicious intent to trap the unwary.
Quite how the lights became such a demonic fixture is open to debate by locals and scholars alike. Some point to the age of the area and its role as a crossroads from the river Thames towards the Troll colonies. Dark references in old Parish records hunt at summary justice enacted on that stretch of road. Moves against persistently untrustworthy families were not unknown where the safety of children was involved; and those same scholars now point to the confluence of local schools in the area, whose pupils assiduously avoid the lights by instinct.
Others claim that the area was blighted in the fae wars of the thirteenth century, but the lush foliage and otherwise relaxed tone of the area would seem to suggest otherwise. This is particularly marked when compared to the ongoing despair that hangs over nearby Hounslow and its blasted heath – so famous for its Highwaymen of old.
This author’s belief is somewhat more prosaic – that the traffic lights have simply evolved from the pain of the local locus geni. A bold and assertive spirit, it gained a taste for blood with the advent of the automobile and people’s impatience.
Little else will explain how the behaviour of the lights at that junction persists across changes of hardware and electronics; or how otherwise same and sober drivers find themselves creeping across traffic lane markers and anticipating the changes of the ever-erratic lights.
It’s certainly a nicer thought anyway than the alternative: that bad things happen for no reason, and that an erratic and downright dangerous traffic light set-up is due to a slapdash or otherwise uncaring set of road traffic planners and engineers starved of adequate financial resources.
Equally unpleasant is the thought that the unequal and erratic responses to the lights by drivers and pedestrians alike comes from frustration and uncertainty over light timings.
Why is this unpleasant? Because it means we have to take ownership of the consequences of our own laziness and impatience. Let’s just blame it on demons instead.